A National School Food Program to set kids up for success

2024 April 1

The National School Food Program is a game changer. The Program will take pressure off of families, invest directly in the future of our kids, and make sure they’re able to reach their full potential – feeling healthy and happy. This is about fairness and doing what’s right for our kids to get the best start in life

The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Every generation deserves a fair, healthy future – from kids, to parents, to grandparents. It’s why we’re supporting families, one of the many things that we are doing in Budget 2024 to build an economy that helps every generation get ahead.

Children deserve to have the best start in life. But today, nearly one in four children in Canada do not get enough food. That impacts their health and their opportunities to learn and grow. Higher grocery prices are making it hard for parents to afford to put enough good, healthy food on the table. Study after study has shown that when kids eat well, they do better in school. And when kids do well, that sets them up for success. Everyone deserves a fair shot at success, and we believe that fairness means we support each other at every stage of life – and that starts from childhood.

That’s why we’ve made generational investments like the Canada Child Benefit, which provides families with up to nearly $8,000 per child, per year, to provide the essentials their kids need. And since 2015, 650,000 children have been lifted out of poverty, meaning Canada’s child poverty rate has fallen by more than half.

And when it comes to helping kids, especially vulnerable kids, we’re going to keep going.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced a new National School Food Program. With an investment of $1 billion over five years, the Program, included in Budget 2024, will launch with a target of providing meals to 400,000 more kids every year, beyond those served by existing school food programs. For moms and dads, it will mean the peace of mind that your kids are taken care of and do not go hungry. For kids, it will mean healthy meals – helping them learn, grow, and reach their full potential. This is a generational investment in the future of our kids, and we’re going to work with provinces and territories and Indigenous partners to ensure every child has the food they need.

The Program will be a safety net for the kids who need this support the most. The lack of access to food disproportionately impacts children from lower-income families and from racialized and Indigenous communities. With this program, we’re getting healthy food on the plates of growing kids.

This includes investments for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities as well as Self-Governing and Modern Treaty partners, many of whom have some of the highest rates of food insecurity in Canada. Investments will also support capacity building and engagement with Indigenous partners to co-develop culturally appropriate solutions. These partnerships will aim to tackle food insecurity by advancing Indigenous-led solutions and will further our work on reconciliation.

The new National School Food Program will also help provinces, territories, and Indigenous partners expand their existing school food programs to make sure more children across the country can enjoy the healthy meals they need. The Program is good for parents and kids, and it’s good for the economy as well. It will help take pressure off of families and invest directly in the future of our kids, while improving children’s health, education, and well-being.

Last week, we announced measures to protect renters and create more affordable child care spaces. This is on top of our actions to improve health care and dental care, strengthen pensions, and increase access to medications – making sure that, no matter your background or income, you have what you need to be healthy. We all depend on Canada’s future success. And Canada’s success depends on the youngest generations being healthy, doing well, and being set up to succeed.